If you’re feeling a bit low after the festive season and January just seems to be nothing but dark days and dreary weather, here are 10 top ideas to cheer yourself up in January.
Go outdoors: Being outside, even if it’s not sunny, will lift your spirits. In fact, wild weather days are highly likely to leave you feeling refreshed mentally (even if you are a bit wet and chilly when you get home). Take a short walk or kick a ball about with the kids. It’s simply about being outside in the fresh air.
Stay low but still go out: Perhaps you had a hill walk planned but the weather is against you. So, re-plan instead of not going. Choose a lower level walk and go out for less time but still do walk.
Case study: Mountain to trail
Clare had been planning to walk a Scottish Munro with a friend and with time booked off from the family she was keen to get out and enjoy the day. But the forecast wasn’t good and the day arrived full of wind, rain and potential snow at higher levels. There was talk of not bothering and rearranging for another day but this seemed like a waste of an opportunity. And Plan B turned out to be just as good. Instead of walking at higher levels, the friends chose to follow a section of the West Highland Way. (See our West Highland Way tour, too) Clare says: “It seemed like the weather was going to be against us but in fact the day’s hike along the West Highland Way was every bit as good as a Munro. “We chose a section that neither of us had walked, from Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy and back, and enjoyed the chance to get out in the wild weather but still feel safe because we were at lower level and following a well-trodden trail and waymarkers. “We talked and walked and talked some more and stopped in a sheltered place for our picnic lunch. It was a superb day out and I’m glad we didn’t simply give up on the walk.”
Join Jantastic: Pledge to run, ride a bike or swim every day for the whole of January. Even if you have missed a few days, there is no time like today to start (and if you are feeling guilty simply add on the missed days at the end of January). The Jantastic website allows you to set targets, whatever your fitness levels, and log your daily fitness sessions. It’s a great tool for January exercise motivation.
Retail therapy: You are probably all shopped out after Christmas (and buying gifts for everyone else) but the January’s sales offer the perfect opportunity to buy a new item of much wanted walking or cycling kit. Browse our kit reviews or wander around your local outdoors store. Having something new to wear or use when walking or cycling is always such a treat.
Make a note: It’s all too easy to put off going for a walk or exercising in January. But you know you’ll feel better if you do. So don’t let yourself find an excuse. Instead, make a date with yourself or friends and write down when you will be heading out for a hike or going to the gym.
Meet with friends: You are even more likely to stick to a plan if you have arranged to meet a friend or two for an outdoors outing. Even when the weather is against you run, bike ride or walk.
Biking in the Snow
Case study: Friends head to MTB trails centre
It’s never easy to motivate yourself to go out on a bike but when it’s cold, dark and just after a New Year party it’s even harder. So a group of friends set up a Facebook event and pledged to meet at a mountain bike trails centre in southern Scotland, whatever the weather, on January 2. If you are meeting people it’s not so easy to pull out of a plan and while the forecast threatened spells of strong winds and snow, the friends were each determined not to wimp out. Thankfully the forest route proved to be a good choice, with the trees mostly sheltering the riders from the worst of the days’ weather. Gary, one of the riders, says: “I think that if I’d woken up and looked out at the weather and tried to motivate myself to go for a ride on my own I wouldn’t have bothered. “But because we had a plan and I’d agreed to give a couple of mates a lift I had to get up and get on with it. “The weather wasn’t the best but I really enjoyed the outing. We kept each other going and there were lots of fun. Afterwards, we all headed to the café for a warming bowl of soup and the chance to tell each other how well we did!”
Join a club: There are plenty of likeminded people who enjoy activities such as walking or cycling. And being part of a club gives you access to guides, coaches and new friends. You will also get to know about fun events and challenges as part of a club.
Do something different: Many people make a New Year’s resolution to make this the year that they will try a new activity or take up a new sport. But why wait for spring when you could try something different now? How about night kayaking, Stand Up Paddleboarding, surfing or open water swimming. A search of Google will be sure to find clubs near you that are filled with winter active maddies!
Book a holiday: There is little better than the sweet joy of clicking the “reserve” button or paying the deposit on a much-wanted holiday. Check out Macs Adventure for some amazing walking or cycling tours for 2015.
Get over the first hurdle: The easiest thing in January is to sit on the sofa and hibernate. But that is unlikely to keep you cheerful all month. And the hardest thing is getting out the door of your home. Tell yourself that once you are out there running, walking, mountain biking or heading to the gym that if you really aren’t enjoying it you can turn back. We’ll bet that you will keep on going once you have started. And the chances are you’ll return home 30 minutes, one hour or five hours later feeling much, much happier about January!